During our 30+ year history we have become well-known for championing a wide-range of musical genres, but for many people we will forever be associated with the golden age of hip hop and our Soho stores. The memories of the music and culture from that time are intertwined with the experience of being in that store (for customers and staff alike). Mr Bongo founder and MD, Dave Buttle, recalls that heady period in Mr Bongo history…
"It was a really exciting time. Soho was booming - full of media companies, record, stores, labels, and the place to go in London for your vinyl shopping needs. If you had an exclusive new hip hop release in store the word would spread and it would be a roadblock. We are talking the early Rawkus releases, Mos Def, Company Flow, then we had Dr Octagon, exclusive Lord Finesse bits from Japan.”
Hip hop will always be in the DNA of Mr Bongo and a couple of years back we decided to channel that into a Mr Bongo Hip Hop 45 reissue series. Our ambition was to release the best and most in demand cuts from the 80’s and 90’s on 7" in original picture sleeves. It’s a collection of our personal favourites, Bongo store anthems and undeniable classics. We kicked the series off with A Tribe Called Quest ‘Scenario’ and we are about to hit release number 20 with the Egyptian Lover ‘Computer Love'. The series has featured artists such as Nas, Souls of Mischief, Rakim, Black Sheep, Gang Starr, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Cypress Hill - to name a few. You can check the full catalogue HERE.
The response to these releases has been fantastic - the demand for these cuts is coming in from all around the world and we are very thankful for the support and love they are getting!
To celebrate reaching release number 20 in the series we thought now would be a good time to showcase the catalogue in full. We called in DJ Chris Read to put together an exclusive Mr Bongo Hip Hop 45’s mix. Chris is a long-time collaborator with Bongo, has a deep knowledge of hip hop, and is an incredible DJ. Perfect for this mix.
"Every track featured in the Bongos Hip Hop 45s reissues series is a certified classic and a high proportion of these records featured heavily in my DJ sets during the 90s and beyond. It was a lot of fun not only to see these records again on 45, but also to revisit them in this mix.
In the years after I moved back to London in the early 2000s, a record shopping trip to Soho was a regular part of my Saturday routine and a visit to Mr Bongo's Berwick Street store was an essential stop on a circuit that took in stores including Record and Tape Exchange, Major Flavas, Scenario, Deal Real and many others. The space was small, the queue for the counter usually deep and the vibe was often hectic, but the atmosphere was electric. I have no idea how many hours I must have spent flicking through the racks or stood at the counter trying to get a glimpse of the latest arrivals up on the wall, but they were hours well spent, made all the better by the presence of some top class DJs serving from behind the counter.” Chris Read